Monday, October 22, 2007

One of us, one of us.

Yep part my hair in a wave, tattoo strange geometric symbols on my forehead. I've woken up in a prison cell with a sharp stabbing sensation in my wallet and my cellmate Sony whispering "You know you want it" in my ear. I've bought a PlayStation 3.

Traipsing around on foot looking at the deals to be had; Curry's, Comet, PC World nothing of interest. Argos had the same leaflet as before and a flimsy booklet informing me I could find more on page 98; great if the booklet didn''t stop around page 60. Oh silly me they meant 98 of the Christmas booklet, which is... where exactly? I looked at the main desks with the main catalogue, at the special offer books above them, turned to leave and there they were behind the main doors - behind the doors, tucked into a corner!

Gamestation was busy and pushing the 40Gb's, Game was quieter and in a clincher were offering a selection of games at £20 on purchase of a system; Oblivion being one of them. Queued, grab a guy, stated my options (60Gb plus RFoM and Heavenly Sword) mentioned I was getting it while it had b/c and how ironically the first game I'm liable to stick in it is a PS2 one then off he went to get it and I had a chat with the manager.

He was surprised that Sony had dropped the price after all their whining about how much they were loosing on each system; I pointed out that they'd dropped a controller from the bundle and it was Christmas coming up (they now have a pile of spare controllers). We both agreed the lack of b/c was 'odd' and I joked about the rise in sales and the sudden resurgence of some PS3 games in the charts (the ones as part of the bundle). I didn't feel it prudent to ask why Sony were dictating both the price and the games you can offer with it, because as we all know a free market system only applies to the producers of goods.

He did ask if the young chap fetching my purchase had mentioned the extra cover; nope, but I had seen it. £30 total cover, on a £350 purchase yeah why not. Do I need a SCART lead, nope apparently it comes with a converter

Anyway down came my new console, which got double-bagged. Apparently yet another directive from Sony to stop people seeing your purchase and getting mugged. "Has that happened to you" I asked "No, but it's happened in America, they had drive-bys", "Yeah, but that's America".

So first impressions were "Bloody hell that's heavy"; it's a rock. I didn't bother to weigh it, but it's hefty. Back home I worked out the details of where to put it. Removal of PlayStation 2, and then removal of the VCR it was sitting on as I don't think I've used it in two or three years. A spot of dusting <cough splutter cough> a bit of swearing at the Second Law of Thermodynamics as I disentangled all the cables. Finally shoving (I said it was hefty) the PS3 into place and checking the clearance around the vents. I can see why everyone was complaining about the finish I only picked it up and suddenly it had fingermarks all over it.

Anyway I followed the instructions - powered it up, plugged in the controller (lighter without the rumble) cursing the short USB lead; then told it where I was and the time etc. First things first the latest version is 1.93 and I'm running... 1.80; okay one 15 minute round trip later and I've a flash drive with the update on it. In went Sly Cooper 2 which prompted the question of whether I wanted to create an internal PS2 memory card - yes please. A quick play around seemed to show that that was okay, time for a PS3 game.

Oblivion, requires 4Gb of space, loading tum te tum and playing. Hmm nice, good run through tutorial-wise, nice draw-distance with no pop-up I could see, the odd small stutter on loading a new area or auto-saving, but nothing game-breaking. One quick play, well one supposedly quick play later and I'd watched someone get assassinated, solved a quest involving a merchant and some suspiciously cheap goods, and killed some vampire agents in the sewers and this wasn't even what I supposed to be doing as part of the main game.

Okay Heavenly Sword, requires 2Gb of space, loading tum-te-tum, tum-te-tum? Hey how come this is taking longer then Oblivion to load? Ah here we are cut-scene, then dropped into the action, then cut-scene and then oo back in time to when it started (how derivative). The main controls are bashing square and triangle with the occasional cross and circle. Annoying the hell out of me was the tutorial, up it popped 'press this button' over the action that was still continuing. Highly annoying in 1.3 aiming at oncoming assassins 'I'm trying to hit this bloke get that bloody rectangular block of text out of my bloody way' oh and you can use the six-axis to steer arrows and obviously the best way to learn how to do this is in action while they're bloody shooting back at you. Frustrated at letting so many through I turned to Resistance: Fall of Man.

Some more loading, and then more loading between missions; it's... not bad. So far your standard First Person Shooter, little in the way of tutorial, you're not even told how to reload your weapon, guidance is minimal which is both good and bad. I wandered around a house for a while before realising I was supposed to jump down into an alley I had no way of getting back out of, with so many games offering pain or death on falling it wasn't my first option.

Anyway the games fall into the not bad category, Ratchet and Clank in November and the Orange Box coming out this week will help that standard rise. [Oh FFS Orange ain't out 'til November either]

Enough of the games onto the console itself. It's quiet with only the occasional manic disc whirr marking the silence (Heavenly Sword seemed the loudest), the flush touch buttons for eject and power and very light and require just a gentle touch, the menu system is easy to navigate and loads up quickly, the USB ports are a little annoying to get out being situated under the overhang (with both the DVD and PVR requiring line-of-sight they're higher up, with the PS3 on wireless it can sit at the bottom), but the controllers can be used wirelessly.

My biggest annoyances were that the hard-disk indicator light was also under the overhang next to the USB ports. With both Oblivion and RFoM warning about not switching off while the hard drive was activate trying to see this tiny orange light was nigh-on impossible for me. Another hang-up was dust-magnet, seriously it was down for maybe an hour and was already collecting particles. My final query was with recharging the controllers, it only happens when the system is on (not in stand-by) and why did my fully charged controller suddenly require charging after coming back to the system?

Ah well I've packed up my PS2 in its original box (with its original wrappings, I know I know) so I'll stick with it and see how it continues to handle, I still find it amusing that the game I've spent the longest on it with is Sly 2 though.